Tax identity theft is when someone uses your Social Security number to steal your tax refund or for work. People often discover tax identity theft when they file their tax returns.
Tax Identity Theft Week is February 1st- 5th, 2022, and is a great time to consider how to keep your identity safe as you prepare to file your taxes. With the significant cybersecurity leaks involving the personal information of millions of Americans compromising throughout the pandemic, this year’s tax season may be one of the worst ever for tax identity theft.
April 18th, 2022, is the deadline to file your 2021 taxes. But remember that scammers are ready and waiting to file tax returns in other people’s names. Experts advise filing early ahead of scammers to ensure you get your return and someone else doesn’t. Many people could file their taxes this year expecting a return, only to find out a scammer received theirs. The mailing of 1099s and W2s results in many people not receiving the documents necessary to file their returns through mailbox theft, contributing to more tax return fraud cases. Scammers also target HR departments via emails requesting employee information while posing as the IRS, which has corporations on edge to maintain employee information security.
What are some ways to protect yourself?
- File early. The sooner you file, the more chance you have to be ahead of scammers who will likely file multiple returns using multiple tax id numbers.
- Use tax preparation software that uses multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication offers extra security by requiring two or more credentials to log in to your account to prepare your taxes. Your tax professional likely is already using this type of security when they file your tax return.
- File electronically with a request for Direct Deposit. Electronic filing is faster than paper filing and decreases the chances of your return being stolen from your mailbox. Secondly, select direct deposit into your bank account as your refund option.
- Run your credit report before filing your taxes. Your credit report will contain an active address for you and previous addresses. If you see a discrepancy and an unknown address in your profile, you may be the target of a scam. Alert the credit reporting agencies immediately and all companies where you have credit.
What should you know about someone using your identity to file a tax return?
If someone uses your Social Security number to file for a tax refund before you do, you’ll usually find out when you file your return with the IRS. If you file by mail, the IRS will mail you a letter explaining that they received more than one return in your name. Follow the instructions in the letter. If you try to submit your tax return online or through a tax preparer, the IRS will reject your tax return as a duplicate filing. If this happens, go to IdentityTheft.gov and report it. IdentityTheft.gov will create your
- FTC Identity Theft Report
- IRS Identity Theft Affidavit
- Personal recovery plan.
If you choose, IdentityTheft.gov will submit the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit to the IRS online so that the IRS can begin investigating your case. You can also get the Identity Theft Affidavit (IRS Form 14039) from irs.gov and submit it by mail. Source: What to Know About Tax Identity Theft
Taking steps to protect your personal information can help you avoid tax identity theft. Keep your tax records in a safe place and shred them when no longer needed or keep them electronically. If someone calls, emails, or texts and says they’re with the IRS, it could be a scammer. Someone trying to steal your identity. Contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 if you think they are trying to contact you. Remember that often the IRS sends letters when trying to contact you.
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